Some people have beer muscles. After downing a couple of mugs of Cape May IPA, they’re ready to take on the winner of the Floyd Mayweather Jr.-Conor McGregor fiasco, er, fight.
My biceps are fueled by tequila, which explains how I wound up wedged into a Subaru race car that was careening around a sand-and-asphalt track at more 100 miles an hour at Bader Field a few days ago.
As part of the buildup to the weekend’s Red Bull Global RallyCross event in Atlantic City, organizers arranged for media members to participate in a ride-along with some of the top drivers Friday.
My invitation arrived via email during a stop in the first annual Beachfront Margarita Tour, somewhere between downing a “frozen concoction that helps me hang on” and throwing back a chilled shot of Patron.
I quickly accepted in an effort to prove my toughness. After all, I have a tattoo on my shoulder. Granted, it’s a picture of a dolphin jumping through waves, but it’s still ink.
Upon arriving at the track and getting a glimpse of the sandy hill that the car would jump over, I immediately began to question my sanity.
My driver, Subaru’s Patrik Sandell, did little to calm my trepidation.
“Nice to meet you,” he said with a smile. “Don’t trust me.”
Subaru’s representatives gave me the first-class treatment. While the dozen or so other ride-along participants picked fire suits from a bin, mine was hand-delivered in a special case.
After zipping up the suit and donning the helmet and neck brace, I put on a pair of Maui Jim sunglasses, hoping that I resembled Tom Cruise in “Days of Thunder.”
In reality, I looked like an overweight version of Racer X, Speed Racer’s long-lost brother.
Watching the first set of Supersport cars in action, my nervousness inched toward panic.
Considering I have trouble with the spinning tea cups at Storybook Land, there was a good chance my spinach-and-cheese omelet would wind up on the front of my cool black fire suit.
“You’re talking about 600 horsepower in just four cylinders,” Subaru team owner Lance Smith said. “They can hit 130 (miles an hour) at top speed.”
The actual ride-along nearly didn’t happen. It took a considerable effort for me to squeeze my, uh, base into a passenger seat that seemed about a foot wide.
Once I was finally crammed into it, I did the sign of the cross and said a quick prayer, drawing a chuckle from the track official.
Sandell, a native of Sweden, and I exchanged fist bumps, then he threw the car into gear and hit the gas. We roared off the line. My body and helmet were pressed against the back of the seat and I immediately discovered why I was wearing a neck brace.
“It’s hard to explain the feeling of being in a race car,” Sandell said later. “It’s much better to experience it.”
Over the next 90 seconds, my emotions bounced between exhilaration and terror. Sandell sped down the straightaways and accelerated through the turns, causing the back tires to slide across the sand.
Each time he wrenched the steering wheel, a wave of nausea washed over me as big as the epic swell local surfer Rob Kelly caught in Long Beach Island last winter. I began to taste the taco salad my wife made Thursday night, as well as the omelet.
Mercifully, Sandell backed off just a tad during the jump, but I was charged up enough at that point to yell “Woo hoo” as we came to a screeching stop at the finish line.
“You did great,” Sandell said after another fist bump. “I didn’t hear you scream once.”
Evidently, he’s hard of hearing.
I pried myself out of the car, made sure my pants were dry, then retrieved my cell phone.
There was a message informing me I had an appointment at the Wildwood Tattoo Convention this weekend.
“Don’t know the reason, stayed here all season. Nothing to show but this brand new tattoo. ... It’s a real beauty, a South Jersey cutie, how it got here I haven’t a clue. ...”
(David Weinberg’s Extra Points column appears Wednesdays and Sundays in The Press.)